Originally built in 1966, the Century Plaza hotel in Century City is a truly iconic venue in Los Angeles, hosting presidents and awards over the decades. Now after a years-long renovation, the Minoru Yamasaki-designed building has been reborn today as the Fairmont Century Plaza, with two towers looming behind and a completely new look within its famous curved tower. And there’s a new ground floor French brasserie called Lumière, which also opens today with veteran general manager Paul Quinn (previously at Quince in San Francisco, and locally at Bao Hiro) and chef Ramon Bojorquez running the show.
The somewhat sprawling restaurant comes with an inviting entrance that gives way to a semi-open kitchen to the right and a patisserie and bakery to the left. Meant to serve both the neighborhood and office towers in the vicinity, this front area feels like a cafe, with banquettes and tables that will serve breakfast and lunch. Walk further in and find a gorgeous zinc cocktail bar and wood cabinetry that should be the center of attention come happy hour and most evenings.
Littered with antiques sourced in France, the unconventional space gets plenty of built-in character, from fixtures to lighting to signs. Even the dining areas offer different vibes, from black veneer tables with pastel accents to the wide garden patio that could very well become the place of celebrity lore, like the Polo Lounge. There’s a private dining room called the Writer’s Room featuring an on-the-nose style 1920s decor meant to conjure the Hemingway/Gertrude Stein/F. Scott Fitzgerald vibe of Paris.
The space, put together by EDG Design, will certainly be a talking point, with Lumière’s central location amid the business end of Hollywood, i.e. Creative Artists Agency, headquartered across the street (which just announced its acquisition of ICM Partners, another Century City-based mega talent agency) — likely making plenty of handshake deals here. The Fairmont’s restaurant seems primed for awards ceremony afterparties and lush Vogue photo shoots and power brokers, but really Lumière’s heart is serving a familiar, approachable set of sturdy French classics with an LA touch.
Bojorquez, a Mexican chef raised nearby the border and by now a veteran Angeleno, knows exactly what the LA diner wants. The chef spent time at Trois Mec under Doug Rankin and Ludo Lefebvre, then going over with Rankin to establish Bar Restaurant in Silver Lake as one of the most unsung new openings of the past few years. At Bar Restaurant, Bojorquez helped capture modern French sensibilities on Rankin’s menu with seasonal produce and some excellent style on the plate. Here at Lumière, Bojorquez is keen on making a solid first impression as executive chef, plating a beautiful seared sea bass with roasted salsify and onion soubise, or a righteous dry-aged, bone-in New York strip with au poivre sauce and a side of frites. To start, there’s a classic French onion soup in a goblet, as well as seafood towers (replete with oysters, lobsters, and caviar), charcuterie, and cheese plates.
As for drinks, expect a French-inspired lot, like a pineapple gastrique and Chambord-tinted martini, or a vermouth cobbler with citrus and mint. A Russell’s Reserve “Century Plaza” bourbon goes into a well-stirred old fashioned while the Century City mixes mezcal, California Argonaut speculator brandy, vermouth, and ancho reyes. Wines feature mostly French selection, like a solid 2019 Morgon from Domaine de la Bêche, though California sprinkles into the mix with a 2016 Ramey from Russian River Valley.
It’s been a long while since a restaurant this noteworthy opened in Century City; Hinoki and the Bird debuted back in 2013, while Craft opened in 2007. Between those two, and Eataly, which came into the Westfield back in 2017, there have been a few other noteworthy restaurants like Meizho Dongpo, Din Tai Fung, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle, and Javier’s. But the neighborhood can sure use a République-style all-day restaurant that has equal parts style, decor, and flavor. Hopefully, Lumière can fill in that role.
With dinner service to start, Lumière at Fairmont Century Plaza opens tonight with hours from 5 to 10 p.m., then eventually breakfast and lunch service in the coming weeks.